If one was to go by the number of people addicted to it, caffeine would probably be the most addictive substance on the planet. Having your morning cuppa? Caffeine.
Love your Diet Coke? Caffeine.
Using energy drinks to keep you awake at night as you try and meet those deadlines? Caffeine.
Taking pre-workout drinks before hitting the gym? Lots of caffeine.
So why do people love caffeine so much?
For starters, it’s a stimulant that’s quickly assimilated into the body through the stomach and intestines. Athletes who consume caffeine through supplements or pre-workout drinks usually report better performance. They’re able to focus better and have more energy during the training.
The performance-enhancing benefits of caffeine cannot be underestimated. It does give athletes an edge and prevents muscle fatigue to some extent. If you’re trying to lose weight, caffeine can aid in fat oxidation and helps the body to burn the stubborn fat stores for fuel.
The only disadvantage here is that people who habitually rely on caffeine to get that ‘pep’ when they need to hit the gym, will feel lost without it. Caffeine is best used on days when your training is going to be hard, and you’ll be demanding a lot from yourself.
If all you’re doing is a 30-minute walk on the treadmill, you really don’t need caffeine. Give your nervous system a rest. Studies have shown that consuming caffeine after 2 pm causes many people to have difficulty sleeping later in the night.
So, it’s best to take your caffeine supplement and work out earlier in the day. Do note that it takes about 45 minutes for the caffeine in your blood to the peak. If you’re taking pre-workout drinks, it’ll probably be around 20 to 30 minutes.
Caffeine has its time and place and can be beneficial if you use it right and don’t rely on it solely for your workout motivation.
• Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA)
That’s quite a mouthful, isn’t it? Let’s call it CLA for short… and now that we’ve got that out of the way, you’re probably wondering, “What in the world is CLA?”
You may have seen it mentioned in fitness magazines, websites, etc. But what does it do?
To keep things simple, CLA is an omega-6 fatty acid. Our diets are actually too rich in omega-6 fatty acids, and what we really need is more omega-3 fatty acids.
This itself should give you a clue that CLA is a supplement that you don’t really need. While it’s said to help lower your body fat percentage, you can do that with exercise and a caloric deficit.
Bodybuilders tend to take CLA supplements when they’re trying to get leaner and more vascular. However, like they say, “The brighter the picture, the darker the negative.”
Studies conducted on the use of CLA have shown that it increases insulin resistance. That means while you may lose some fat in the short term, in the long run, you’ll be more predisposed to weight gain because your body secretes more insulin than it needs to. Excess insulin is converted into fat.
So, it’s best to avoid CLA supplements and just lose your excess fat by eating clean and consuming fewer calories than you expend. This is one of those supplements most people don’t need.